- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

On today’s Op-Ed page, David Bossie, former chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, makes a powerful case that Jamie Gorelick, a member of the September 11 commission, has a major conflict-of-interest problem. Mr. Bossie is right. Given that Ms. Gorelick, during her tenure as deputy attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department, helped strengthen the ill-conceived legal “wall” that choked off cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies prior to September 11, she has no business serving as an investigator of the attacks.

It reflects poorly on the judgment and integrity of the commission that it refuses to question Ms. Gorelick under oath, and that it has limited its inquiries to officials who worked at the Justice Department within four years of September 11 — a time frame that conveniently excludes Ms. Gorelick, who left the agency a little over four years prior to the attacks. Given the fact that Ms. Gorelick’s role in creating this barrier was not known to the commission until Attorney General John Ashcroft disclosed it last month, Mr. Bossie raises an important question: Did Ms. Gorelick intentionally lead the committee away from learning about her involvement in undercutting intelligence-gathering prior to September 11?

In his new book, “Intelligence Failure,” Mr. Bossie demonstrates that Ms. Gorelick’s role in creating the wall is just a small part of the damage the Clinton administration did to national security.

The problems were evident from the very beginning of the Clinton years. Bill Clinton refused to meet with his CIA director, James Woolsey. Mr. Woolsey’s successor, John Deutch, instituted “diversity” quotas as well as human rights guidelines for agent recruitment that effectively made it impossible to infiltrate terrorist groups.

Mr. Bossie shows that, when it came to fighting terrorism, the Clinton years were a series of disastrous miscalculations. Several years prior to September 11, the administration dispatched U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and Assistant Secretary of State Rick Inderfurth to Afghanistan to prevent the fall of the Taliban regime. The October 1993 catastrophe in Somalia — in which 18 U.S. servicemen were killed — occurred after Clinton Defense Secretary Les Aspin denied U.S. Army Rangers critical troop backup — all of which emboldened Osama bin Laden to carry out further attacks on the United States.

Even this is only part of the malfeasance documented by Mr. Bossie. The Clinton administration, he shows, pressured investigators to abandon their examination of tax-exempt Islamic charities in the United States that were linked to terror groups. Perhaps Mr. Bossie’s most powerful indictment of the Clinton administration’s law enforcement-oriented approach to fighting terrorism (one jettisoned by the Bush administration after September 11) is his chapter on the investigation into the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-supported terrorists — which failed because the Clinton White House did nothing to back up FBI investigators. It would be interesting to have Ms. Gorelick testify about that.

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